Category Archives: Vegetarian

Soba Noodles with Orange-Ginger Miso Dressing

Despite that there were a few flakes of snow threatening my peace of mind yesterday,I was so glad that today was a (chilly) but beautifully sunny day–still light out at seven!  I went to the gym today for the first time since midterm week started, and even though it was hard getting back into the swing of things, it’s nice to experience that post-workout high again (it helped that the sun was just setting as I left the gym).

However, I have to admit something to you about the upcoming recipe.  It’s all about a cold soba noodle salad, with an orange-ginger miso dressing–perfect for a quick lunch during midterms week when Fritz wasn’t around.  Except…midterms week was last week.  I made this an entire week ago.

This isn’t normally much of a problem, except that I didn’t write the amounts of anything that I used, so I have to kind of guess at what actually went into this dressing.  Luckily I have pictures as a reminder.  It was really good though, so I’d like to suggest that you use this recipe as an inspiration for a soba salad of your own–and if you do use my recipe, taste it as you go an adjust accordingly to your taste.

For myself I’ve found that’s true of any recipe using miso–I am still getting used to the strong and salty taste of miso, so I like to go slow as it is.  Miso and I are still taking baby steps as we get to know each other. 

No rushing into this relationship.

Cold Soba Salad with an Orange-Ginger Miso Dressing

  • 6-8 oz uncooked soba noodles
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced (I’d definitely roast the pepper first next time)
  • 1-1 1/2 T miso
  • 2 T grated ginger
  • juice of one small orange (I used a tangelo)
  • 2 T tahini

Cook the soba noodles as instructed on the packaging (it only takes a few minutes in boiling water) and douse them with cold water once they are done to prevent them from overcooking.

Once they’ve cooled off and been drained, add the shredded carrots and bell pepper.

Next, mix the last four ingredients together to make a dressing.

Pour that right over the noodle mixture.

Give the noodles a good toss, and there you have it!

A light but filling (and healthy) salad.  Perfect for a meal on the go, or as a side dish for a heartier meal.

Tomorrow I plan on making a cake in the morning to celebrate our friends Steve and Gill’s first anniversary (congrats guys!) and then Fritz and I are having dinner at the Jensen’s house.  Should be a lovely day.

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

Day number two of midterms week, down.  Yes!

On a more sad note, Fritz went off to California today for a dental conference that he’s presenting research in.  Sad for me, happy for him.  It’s going to be very lonely for the next couple of days, so it’s probably a good thing I have a large stack of textbooks to bury my sorrows in.

Actually, that’s never really a good thing, is it?

My mom (who is apparently the recent MVP of this blog) gave me a recipe for this sweet-potato-black-bean-quinoa-casserole this weekend, and I decided to give it a try because it was filled with a lot of healthy ingredients that I had on hand.  My one complaint was that it was a bit dry, so I’d probably add a 1/2 cup of water or so next time I made it (or an extra cup of salsa–even better!).  It was good as a side dish, and even better as a Mexican-style filling for the omelet I just made for dinner! 

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

  • 1 C dry quinoa
  • 3 C black beans (2 cans, or 1 1/3 C dried beans, soaked, rinsed, and cooked)
  • 1 sweet potato, grated (about 2 C)
  • 1 1/2 C salsa
  • 3/4 grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 eggs or 1 egg/1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed in 3 T water)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the quinoa according to instructions (I used 2 1/2 C water and simmered until all the water was absorbed–I had both red and white quinoa, and red cooks more slowly than white).

In a casserole dish, combine the quinoa, grated sweet potato, and black beans.

Mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl, using only half of the grated cheese (eggs/flax egg, cheese, salsa).

Pour over the quinoa mixture, and combine thoroughly.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake, covered, on the middle rack in the oven for 25 minutes.  Uncover for another five minutes and let the cheese on the top brown (you can broil it if you like your cheese crispy).

Slice and serve!

Since mine came out a bit crumbly, I was using it as a filling for other meals, which was perfect.  A great way to eat this would be in a halved bell pepper with some extra salsa–mm! 

Between all the studying that Fritz and I have been doing, it hasn’t been very fun around here.  Luckily, Henry always manages to find some way to amuse himself–he was surfing on pieces of paper in the kitchen, jumping from one to another and sliding all over the floor.  Who knew cats were so hysterical?

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Meatless Monday: Moroccan Lentil Stew (Crock Pot)

Since I fairly recently made the “Recipes” page of this blog, I had an opportunity to review what we’ve eaten for the last few months.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how many vegetarian dishes I’ve made–looks like my Meatless Mondays paid off!  I believe that we are now officially out of the “forcing myself to do it” and into the “habit/lifestyle” phase.  Even Fritz doesn’t find it unusual to be eating meatless for a few days in a row (minus his lunchtime pastrami sandwiches, of course).  One of my friends posted a “top 30 health foods” list in her blog recently, and I was pleased to see that Fritz and I eat all of them, minus a few–like chard (ew)–on a regular basis.

So one benefit of food blogging–it’s like an intensive, long-term food diary.  Perfect for a little early-March life assessment.

Here’s a recipe for a sassy Moroccan-style vegetarian stew I made in the Crock Pot for tonight.  Set it up before work/school, turn it on low, and come home to a warm bowl of spicy lentils, beans, and vegetables.  Does it get better than that?

(Although I must say that the site I found the recipe inspiration on is written by a woman who apparently ate Crock Pot meals for an entire year.  Um…no.  I like to vary the texture of my meals, thank you very much.  Once a week, tops, is enough for me).

Moroccan Lentil Stew (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 C carrot, diced
  • 1″ piece ginger,peeled and minced (I used a bit more–I love ginger!)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed (or 2/3 C dried beans, which soaked overnight will equal about a 15 oz can)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed (2/3 C dried beans, soaked overnight)
  • 1 C dried lentils (I used red lentils)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 C veggie broth, plus an extra 2 C water (more if you used dried beans)
  • 1 1/2 t garam masala (recipe coming soon!)
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

Set the stage–plug your Crock Pot in.

Done.

Basically, dump all the ingredients into the pot, turn it on low, and go do what you want for a few hours (7, if you had my schedule). 

The more glamorous version is this: chop the veggies first (onion, carrots, and mince the ginger, too), toss those in.  Add the beans and lentils.  Top with spices.  Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and the broth.  Give it a quick stir.  If you used dried beans that soaked overnight, add a few extra cups of water.  Actually, even if you used regular beans, you might want to add some extra water.  Those lentils will suck it right up–but you can always add more when you get home (I did that, too).

The step you didn’t see?  I actually made the garam masala–I’ll show you how to do that in my next post.  Easy, and it smells so good. 

Like I said, cook on low for 6-8 hours, then serve.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

That’s the antique version of Moroccan stew.  Here’s the regular:

Doesn’t that look heavenly?  This stew is nice and thick because the lentils break down as they cook and basically puree themselves (thank you lentils!). This stew also has a sweeter and warmer taste than most stews I make–I think that’s due to the generous amount of nutmeg and cinnamon.  I loved it.  Not overpowering, but definitely distinct.

Want to know the secret to all these patterned backgrounds?  I swore to myself that I would never tell, but I’ll betray my own confidence because it’s such and easy and cheap way to have fun food pictures when you don’t feel like making an elaborate set-up.  I just thought you would like to know.

I bought a humongous book of scrapbooking papers from Joann’s Fabrics at 50% off for $9.00.  There are a couple hundred square sheets of fabulous patterns–I just choose one, rip it out, toss on the table for pictures, and then stick it back in the book for another time.  I literally stumbled across the idea while I was looking for fabric to make pillow covers for the couch.

I love those cheap and easy inspirations, don’t you?

What’s one of the ways that you use everyday items for unusual and creative purposes?

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Filed under Soups/Stews, Vegetarian

Indian Samosa Casserole

One lovely day, Lauren met Fritz.  Fritz is South African.  South African food is influenced by all sorts of different countries than American food is.  It is delicious.  Fritz taught Lauren about braais, boerewors, samosas, melk tert, rusks, rooibos tea, droerwors, biltong, Mrs. Ball’s chutney, amarula, and lamb roasts.

Lauren married Fritz.  Immediately.

Seriously, though, I may have been born into the wrong country.  My entire family fully embraced all things South African after meeting the Zietsmans–we had a lamb roast at our rehearsal dinner, my mom makes rusks more often than I do, and everyone drinks rooibos tea.  My dad even gave a blessing in Afrikaans at our wedding.

It’s so wonderful when families blend as well as ours did.

So as a tribute to food that Fritz loves, I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon a recipe for an Indian samosa casserole in Vegetarian Times a few days ago.  I love to make things that I know he will be excited to have (on one of our first dates I made him bobotie to surprise him–and perhaps demonstrate my eligibility as a bride), and this proved to be just as successful as I expected.

Fritz ranked this right up there in the list of “vegetarian things I don’t mind not containing meat”.  Now if this did contain, say, ground lamb, I am quite certain he would not object–so feel free to add that if you want a non-vegetarian version.  I also doubled the recipe so that I could bake one for dinner and freeze one for some other day–the recipe says you can freeze it for up to four months!

Indian Samosa Casserole (from Vegetarian Times; makes one casserole)

Crust:

  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t curry powder
  • 2 T vegetable oil

Filling:

  • 1/2 T mustard (I used spicy)
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped (1 1/4 lbs)
  • 1 t vegetable oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 C veggie or chicken broth
  • 2 t sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  To make the crust, whisk together the dry ingredients and add oil–stir until clumps form.  Slowly add 6-10 (I only needed 6) T cold water until the dough sticks together (this is roughly a million times easier if you use your kitchen-aid).  Cover dough with a damp towel and set aside.

Next, boil the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.  Roughly mash them (you want some chunks of potato leftover) and set aside.

Side note:  I always misspell potatoes.  I spell it potatos.  Every time.  Tomatoes, too.  Thank goodness for spell check.

Anyway, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, ginger, and garlic until the carrots are tender (about five minutes).  Push the onion mixture to one side, and add the mustard, curry, cumin, and pepper flakes.  Toast ’em for 30 seconds, then mix it all together.  Stir in the frozen peas.

Next, add the broth and sugar and stir, making sure to scrape up all the spices from the bottom of the pan.  Add this onion mixture to the mashed potatoes, and stir it all up, adding salt and pepper to taste–if you want.  That’s your filling!

Spoon into a 9-inch pie plate (or two, if you doubled this recipe like I did).

Set aside, and take out the dough.  On a slightly floured surface, roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle (if you doubled the recipe, make two circles…duh).  Cover the filling with the dough, pressing down to make sure there are no air pockets. Fold the overhanging crust under, and crimp the edges.  Cut an “X” into the middle (to release steam while cooking), and brush the top of the pie with milk.  If you are freezing one, leave out the milk step for that one–do it right before you bake it.

For the pie you aren’t baking, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag.  It’s okay if you squish the beautifully crimped crust a little–Fritz won’t even notice.  Then freeze it!  To bake it later, preheat the oven to 375 degrees,  place on a baking sheet, and bake 75-90 minutes.

For the casserole we are eating tonight, place it on a baking sheet (there’s boil-over potential here, so be kind to yourself), and bake for about 40-50 minutes until the top is golden-brown and you see the filling bubbling up around the edges.

Let stand for five minutes before serving.

Enjoy! 

Fritz and I really enjoyed this–for a more decadent casserole, you could try using another crust recipe.  This one was good (and very healthy) but you could tell it wasn’t a flaky, buttery, pastry crust.  You could also try phyllo dough on top.  That said, neither Fritz nor I had any complaints as is–the curry powder in the crust was a nice, tasty addition.

I also just ate leftovers as dinner tonight, and after a minute in the microwave it was just as good the second day.

With all that said–it’s back to studying.  Have a beautiful night!

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Sweet Potato Curry

My youngest sister (the baby!) got her permit today!

She can drive–supervised–but my little baby J can drive!

Also, she got a 100 on the test.

I’m so proud of my Bleach-obsessed-black-lipstick-wearing-Smallville-watching-Asian-food-gourmet-chef-tiger-tee-shirt-artistic-hand-massage-fiending-driving-big-hearted-little-sister.

I can also tell you that Henry is proud.  That cat is obsessed with that girl.  But I digress! 

On a food blog related note, I made a sweet potato curry as a starchy side dish for dinner the other night.  I always make at least three times what we can eat in one sitting, so that we can pack warm, hearty food for our lunches the next day.  Something about a hot meal is so much more satisfying than a sandwich during a long day of classes–and this is coming from a girl who loves herself some PB&J.

 

This curry has a subtle underlying heat from the vindaloo paste that isn’t even noticeable at first, but incredibly appreciable once you detect it.

Sweet Potato Curry (adapted from 100 Best Health Foods)

  • 1 t canola oil
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3-4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 C chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 C lentils
  • 1 T curry paste–maybe less if you are using vindaloo because it is HOT!  Use a mild curry paste if you want a little less heat!

Boil the white potatoes in a saucepan until tender.  Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the canola oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add the sweet potato and cook for about five minutes, when the sweet potatoes are beginning to soften.

Add the potatoes, curry paste, lentils and broth to the sweet potato mixture.  Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I loved how the sweetness of the sweet potatoes really came through.  If I had some ginger at the time, I would have added that in there too–mmm.  Hearty and healthy.

Tomorrow is destined to be a great day because I have the morning and the evening off from my normal routines–so much free time!  And I deep cleaned the house today when one of my classes was canceled, and there are two bananas rapidly browning (I think we are well past the “freckled” stage) just begging to be baked into something delicious.  So yeah, that’ll be a good day.

I’ll leave you with a photo shoot Henry and I had today.  He was snuggled right up to those speakers and apparently in love with the motivational cleaning music that was playing.

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Very Veggie Pizza (with Whole-Wheat Dough)

In celebration (yes, celebration!) of yesterday’s Meatless Monday, I made a pizza.  We were tired, and I didn’t feel like going to the gym–but I did feel like playing with my new light box!  By the time I got dinner started it was already dark outside, so you get to experience how food looks in our new box.  It’s not better than natural light by any means, but it is eons better than what I had before.

Start off by making the dough, because it’ll need to rise and you can get all the toppings ready once it’s busy doing its…you know…thang.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough  (adapted from In Great Taste by Evelyn Lauder)

  • 1 C spelt flour
  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 1/4 C warm water
  • 1 T olive oil

First I had to make the spelt flour.  Because my mom is amazing and scatters kitchen gifts in her wake wherever she goes, I have a coffee grinder that also works perfectly to make grains into flour.  You can also experiment here with what kind of flours to use–the original recipe used all-purpose flour for the whole thing and suggested subbing half whole-wheat.

Add all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl, combine, and make a well for the wet ingredients.  Pour them in, making sure the water is warm but not hot enough to kill the yeast.  Mix thoroughly and knead for ten minutes on a tabletop or about half the time with the KitchenAid.

Cover bowl with Saran wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about forty minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare your toppings.

Very Veggie Pizza

  • Whole-Wheat pizza dough
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 C basic pesto sauce (remember this recipe? Get a few cubes out of the freezer!)
  • chopped veggies (I used 1/2 bell pepper, a tomato, olives, 3 scallions, and 1/2 onion–all the leftovers in the fridge!)
  • parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  While the dough is rising, chop the veggies and place the canned tomatoes into a saucepan.  Let them simmer until thickened into a sauce.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two.  Roll out into a circle 10-12″ in diameter, and if you want an authentic feel, dust the bottom with cornmeal.  Place on a cookie sheet and spread with half the pesto, leaving 1/4″ bare on the edges.  Cover with half of the tomato sauce, then layer on half the vegetables and top with a sprinkle of the parmesan cheese.

Repeat with the other pizza.  When the oven is hot, bake the pizza on the middle rack for about 12 minutes until crispy on the bottom and the vegetables are cooked through.  If you want, you can broil it for a minute or two to blacken the toppings a little–but I didn’t want them overcooked.

This crust is my favorite that I’ve ever made.  It was perfectly crisp on the bottom, but still just doughy enough under the veggies to satisfy my pizza craving 100%–I didn’t want a flatbread sandwich, I wanted a pizza!  However, by far the perfect touch was the pesto sauce under the tomatoes.

It was divine.

And the best part is, you get leftovers to bring to school the next day!

What do you think about our lightbox photos?  Pretty crazy background there, huh?

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Filed under Breads, Entrees, Vegetarian

Lentil Vegetable Barley Soup (Crock pot)

Hello all!

Last semester I loved Tuesdays, and this time it’s Wednesdays.  I just love having late mornings–I can sleep in (’til eight), catch up on our budgeting, clean, and still have time to set up dinner in the crock pot before I have class.  Now that is just amazing.

So here’s the latest and greatest from that lovely little invention known to we mortals as a slow cooker:

Lentil Vegetable and Barley Soup

  • 1/2 large onion or one small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium summer squash (or zucchini), halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 1 C carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 C red lentils
  • 1/2 C yellow split peas
  • 1/2 C barley
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 C vegetable broth (or chicken or beef), plus ~2 C extra water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • fresh or dried basil to top (optional)

As with all crock pot recipes, this is a breeze to put together.  Dice and layer all the veggies, and top with the grains, liquids and the spices (except the basil).  The order I used was: onions and bell peppers, squash and carrots, lentils, peas, and barley, diced tomatoes and broth, salt, pepper, sugar, and finally the extra water.

Aren’t the colors of this soup just gorgeous?  I was lucky and actually got to take pictures in daylight for once (another great thing about late mornings).

Set the crock pot on low for eight hours or on high for four hours.  The lentils, peas, and barley will absorb a lot of water, so you may need to add even more extra (unless you like a nice thick soup like I do–then you will be very pleased when you arrive home from class!).

Top with a sprinkle of basil and some pepper and enjoy!

Before I’m off to bed, I thought I’d share one last thing with you.  It’s a favorite of mine–I have some every day (often two or three times), and it calms me while awakening me at the same time.  It’s warm, it’s comforting, it’s a blast in a glass.

Any guesses?

Nope, not Deena from J-Shore (is it cool that I abbreviated that?).  It’s tea.  The best tea I have even been given the privilege to steep.  I’m nearing the end of the tin and every day I die a little more inside knowing that I’m one day closer to running out (melodramatic, much?).  It was a gift–a great one.

I would like to thank a certain South African for allowing this beautiful marriage between me and Zululand to happen–you know who you are.

Thanks!

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Filed under Soups/Stews, Vegetarian